2016-10-14 / Front Page

Teachers, parents rally behind bond measure

Measure X would raise $239 million to aid SVUSD’s aging infrastructure
By Michael Aushenker


UNITED FRONT—Teachers Amanda Hogan, left, Nicole Malone and Dawn Moffett campaign for Measure X in front of Royal High School on Oct. 6. Hogan is the president of the Simi Educators Association, the local teachers union. 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers UNITED FRONT—Teachers Amanda Hogan, left, Nicole Malone and Dawn Moffett campaign for Measure X in front of Royal High School on Oct. 6. Hogan is the president of the Simi Educators Association, the local teachers union. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers About 25 supporters of Measure X, the Simi Valley Unified School District’s $239-million bond initiative, gathered last week in front of Royal High School for a pre-election campaign push.

A mix of Royal teachers and parents—many of them members of the Simi Educators Association, California Teachers Association and Simi Valley PTA/PTSA Council—lined up along Royal Avenue before school started Oct. 6 and waved signs of support.

The goal was to garner votes for the measure, which asks local property owners to pay an estimated $39 per $100,000 of assessed value for the next 30 years to fund repairs and upgrades at Simi Valley Unified schools.

“The state of California does not give monies to upgrade and fix (school) facilities,” said SEA President Amanda Hogan, who was among the rally’s leaders. “That’s huge.”


MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR BOND—Liz Hernandez, left, and Victoria Nelson campaign for Measure X in front of Royal High School Oct. 6. 
MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR BOND—Liz Hernandez, left, and Victoria Nelson campaign for Measure X in front of Royal High School Oct. 6. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn Newspapers Measure X has no organized opposition. If passed by 55 percent of the vote Nov. 8, the measure would go into effect just as an earlier bond is paid off, said Ron Todo, associated superintendent of business and facilities. That bond, approved as Measure A in 1989, has property owners paying about $20 per $100,000 in assessed value.

Property owners are still paying about $42 per $100,000 in assessed value for Measure C4, the $145-million bond measure approved by voters in 2004.

All three measures deal in general obligation bonds, which are paid off over 30 years.

Todo said that if Measure X passes, the district will work with its bond adviser to restructure the 1989 bond’s payoff so property owners will only be paying on Measure C4 and Measure X moving forward.

At the Oct. 6 rally, Hogan said the SEA, CTA and PTA have formed a united front to support Measure X under the umbrella of the “Schools of Tomorrow Committee.”

“Our students deserve a high-quality education to propel them to success in college and careers. We need Measure X so our facilities can support that education,” said PTA Council President Carla Lowe.

Should Measure X pass, the bond money will make SVUSD eligible for state matching funds that might otherwise go to other districts, proponents say.

As written, no Measure X money can be applied toward administrator or teacher salaries, only toward voter-approved projects.

Kathy Hinkle, first vice president of the PTA/PTSA Council and mother of a 16-year-old junior at Royal, hoisted her sign outside the campus alongside fellow supporters last Thursday. Despite the widespread support for Measure X, its passage should not be taken for granted, she said.

“A lot of parents don’t even know about it,” she said. “We’re doing a lot of phone banking, and we’ll be sending out a mailer next week.”

Brian Dennert, who has taught at Royal since 2005 and attended the high school as a teenager, said the once-struggling school district has been in turnaround in recent years.

In the long run, improving SVUSD schools will raise surrounding property values, Dennert said.

Amy Hunter, mother of a 17-year-old Royal senior, said the committee’s mission was important enough for her to squeeze the rally into her schedule just before heading off to work.

“ It’s going to help the schools,” said Hunter, dressed in blue scrubs for her job as an ultrasound technician.

Anthony Gulino—whose 14-year-old daughter attends Royal and 16-year-old son attends Simi Valley High School— said Measure X’s passage is crucial to improving SVUSD’s infrastructure.

“The schools are aging,” Gulino said. “They’ve been around for 50 years.”

“It hasn’t changed from when I went here as a student 25-30 years ago,” added SEA’s Hogan, a longtime second-grade teacher at Madera.

Much-needed repairs, such as this summer’s rectification of Royal’s broken air conditioning system, have arrived intermittently over the years, Measure X supporters said.

“This is the first year we had (air conditioning) running,” Dennert said, pointing to other recent improvements— a new paint job on the main building, the recently installed drought-tolerant garden out front—bestowed upon Royal through Measure C4 funds.

“We need to continue that momentum,” said Gulino, who also wants to see more technology upgrades hot on the heels of SVUSD acquiring 14,000 Chromebooks over the summer.

Measure X supporters were successful in eliciting some honks and beeps from passing motorists.

“It’s important for students in our valley,” Hogan said of Measure X. “Our students are worth it.”

For more information on Measure X, visit www.simivalleyusd.org/bond.

Darleen Principe contributed to this report.

This story was updated Oct. 14, 2016. The original version incorrectly stated Measure X needs a two-thirds vote to pass, when in fact it needs 55 percent of the vote to pass.

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